Best CPU for NVIDIA RTX 3070 in 2023
Find the perfect CPU to pair with this powerful card.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 is a powerful GPU that appeals to gamers who want to crush high-end games without overspending. Of course, the best graphics cards are tough to find at a regular list price, but that's beside the point; you already have the GPU and want to pair it with a proper processor! Here are a bunch of options for the best CPU for the NVIDIA RTX 3070 that won't keep the card from achieving its true potential.
The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X might be overkill for most people, but if you have the budget, it will crush anything you throw its way. It has 16 cores, 32 threads, and a 105W TDP with a ceiling available for overclocking. It works with the AM4 socket and has DDR4 RAM and PCIe 4.0 support.
The i9-12900K competes with the Ryzen 9 with comparable performance and a lower price. Running at a 125W TDP, it's overclockable with DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support. It's an LGA 1700 socket chip, meaning you will need to also invest in a motherboard to match.
Best value AMD
The Ryzen 7 5800X isn't quite as powerful as the i7-12700K, but it will still easily keep up with the RTX 3070. Eight cores, 16 threads, a 105W TDP, and it's overclockable with DDR4 RAM and PCIe 4.0 support. You can even use older AMD motherboards, thanks to the AM4 socket.
Best value Intel
The Core i7-12700K easily beats the Ryzen 7 5800X in most benchmarks but costs more. DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support are future-proofed, but it requires a compatible motherboard for the LGA 1700 socket. It has 12 cores and 20 threads at a 125W TDP using Intel's big.LITTLE hybrid design.
Best affordable AMD
The Ryzen 5 5600X vs. Intel Core i5-12600K shows it doesn't bring as much power with six cores and 12 threads. Still, the lower 65W TDP, PCIe 4.0 support, and overclocking ceiling are appealing. The AM4 socket also means keeping your motherboard if upgrading an older AMD build.
Best affordable Intel
The Intel Core i5-12600K beats the Ryzen 5 in most benchmarks, costing about the same amount too, but you must factor in an LGA 1700 socket motherboard. It benefits from DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support plus the same big.LITTLE hybrid design as the other 12th Gen Intel CPUs.
Intel vs. AMD
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For the best value out there, the Ryzen 7 5800X and Core i7-12700K are both top options, and they're also incredibly powerful CPUs that will crush modern gaming and specialized work. And if you'd rather spend a little less, the Ryzen 5 5600X and Core i5-12600K will get the job done at a mild performance cost.
When buying the newest 12th Gen Intel Core "Alder Lake" CPUs, you will need to invest in a motherboard with LGA 1700 socket. Older Intel motherboards will not work with these new chips. Our collections of the best motherboards for Core i5-12600K and best motherboards for Core i7-12700K can help you with that.
Choosing the best CPU for NVIDIA RTX 3070
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 is a top choice for gamers looking for a high-end gaming experience without overspending. That disregards the history of the GPU market, rife with scalpers and insane prices. If you're searching out new CPUs, chances are you already have an RTX 3070 and are now looking for further upgrades.
Any of the best CPUs in this list will do a great job accompanying the RTX 3070, and you have some choices depending on your budget. The Ryzen 9 5950X or the Core i9-12900K will set you up nicely for the future, with total overkill performance that will remain relevant years into the future. These chips are mostly reserved for enthusiasts, with a price tag reflecting performance.
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Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.